HOUSTON - "It's more than just a job, these veterans want to get into a blue collar trade that they can make a career in."
Chuck Bagnato is a former marine who served 28 years, who had two tours of duty in Iraq and one in Afghanistan.
Now he's part of Adaptive Construction Solutions, a company owned and staffed by veterans that recruits and oversees the training and integration of veterans recently out of service.
Bagnato says, "To get these guys and gals out into the workplace so they can work safely. They know what they're doing with their tools and they know what's it's like to be safe in the workplace. They're basically using the skills they learned in the military... always looking out for each other, safety-conscious, trained for safety. safety is a culture, and no matter what service, you work with weapons, you're in the business of taking and saving lives, so safety is paramount."
The vets have to complete a three-year apprentice program before they can pass the journeyman's exam. That's when they can make some serious coin and eventually become a foreman.
"We think that 20-40 percent of vets want to into some blue collar trade. They want to be a welder, a plumber, they want to be in construction. If people want to work outside and have that sense of accomplishment of building something... a school, a hospital, a high-rise... you name it. Here in Houston, Empire [Steel]'s work is all over Houston.... and they can say, 'Hey, I built that and I helped build that. That's the kind of pride that iron workers used to have and that we are going to bring back with veterans. Just like in the military, they're looking for a challenge. They want to be that blue-collar worker that goes out, works really hard, comes home and provides for his family. It's not only to just have a job but a career."
Rebuilding America using veterans. That's one program which is easy to salute.